But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Oh, the sweetness of the aroma of the knowledge of Christ. It is the honeyed savor of God’s love and grace amongst creation.
Like the sweet aroma of lilacs in Spring, so is Christ’s victory sending its perfume through the earth.
Like the thick-aired freshness after a Spring rain, so does Christ’s redemption breathe sweet, dense life into humanity.
With those who have noses to smell, whose olfactory glands are spiritually opened, God’s great victorious grace hangs heavy in the air for all to relish.
May my ears be attuned to Your voice, Lord. Like sheep know the voice of their shepherd, like children know the voice of their parent, so may my ears be attuned to Your voice.
May my ears hear Your praise in creation, Lord. In the songs of Springtime chirping birds, in the winds that greet the break of dawn, may my ears hear Your praise in creation.
May my soul hear the stirring of Your Spirit, Lord. Beyond the ragings, shakings, and rising fears, give my soul the ears to hear Your still, small voice. May my soul hear the stirring of Your Spirit, Lord.
May my ears hear You in those around me, Lord. Give me grace to hear every other person’s voice as one who is made in Your image, my God. May my ears hear You in those around me.
May I hear You calling me on my final day, Lord. When my last day day ordained arrives in time and You draw near to bring me to Your side, may I hear You calling me on my final day.
Maybe we have not thought much about Satan,
either in glib self-regard,
or in rejection of such silly speculation,
or in a way more urbane and benign
than to imagine such a character.
Except that as we begin our strenuous Lenten trek,
we are aware that the power of resistance is at work in our midst,
that the force of negation is alive and well,
that our best will is contradicted
by stuff that surges
against our best selves,
that we, even we, are prone to our
several addictions that render us helpless.
So we pray in the Lenten season,
give us primitive freedom to
take full stock of Satan and the power of
evil still among us in our prosperity
and pride an sophistication,
and give us primitive openness
to your ministering angels
who are present with care and gentleness
and great nourishment.
In the Lenten season, give us freedom
to reconfigure our lives
as a testing field between the force of Satan
and the food of your angels.
Enter our lives with power for newness,
deliver us from a sense of naïve mastery,
and give us honest contact with our vulnerability.
Enter the deep places of our life and claim us for your purposes.
We would be more free than we are,
more bold than we dare,
more obedient than we choose.
We wait for the gift of your large gift of life
that will wrench us away from death
to the miracle of Easter joy. Amen
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16a)
Lord, take my life and shape me around Your life. transform me from the inside out. Let the fruit of my life—that which is seen and experienced by others—reflect You. This day, Lord, I bring You my words and my attitudes. Set me free from grumbling and arguing which is the overflow of a distorted heart set on the self and selfish will, unyielding to the unplanned and difficult. May the attitude of my life reflect surrender to You and Your ways even as I serve You and Your kingdom. May You be the center of my words and attitudes that I may not distract others from You by my mumbled grumblings of frustration or my thoughtless arguing for my way. Lord, have mercy upon me and change me. Grow me to be like You in every way.
Today on January 20, 2021, we are inviting Eastbrook Church into a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation on the day of the presidential inauguration. The goal of this day is not to pray in a partisan way, but to bring our hopes and fears about the future of our nation to God, even as we intercede for the preservation of our nation, unity amidst divisions, and revival of hearts turning to the Lord. We welcome all of you to join us.
Prayer is the most appropriate first response we can make to circumstances like this. Prayer is not the only response, but it is vital. In prayer, we lay down our thoughts and feelings before God, relinquishing our desire to control, our visions of what is needed, and fears that grip us. We can release this all into the hands of God. In prayer, we also venture into encounter with the God who has made us and holds all the world together by His providential power and goodness. Prayer leads us to intercede for the needs of the world, to call out to God on behalf of those with power in the world, and also brings us into the silence of entrusting all things to God who knows better than us what is truly needed. God changes us and changes circumstances through prayer.
Fasting is simply voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. It is the opportunity to express to God in a very tangible way that we need Him more than anything else, even a physical meal. Fasting is always accompanied by focused prayer. If you do not know much about fasting or would like to grow in your understanding of this spiritual practice, let me encourage you to make use of the resources on my blog here.
As we engage in this day of prayer and fasting, here are some prayer points to guide us:
pray for true peace in our city, nation, and the nations of the earth in this divisive, confusing, and tumultuous time
pray for a peaceful transition of power as President Trump steps down and President Biden is inaugurated
pray that God would guide the leaders of our nation with His wisdom, and that whether they name Jesus as Lord or not, God would mercifully lead us forward in His ways
pray for healing of wounds in our nation, reconciliation across divides, and a constructive pathway forward toward a more whole and unified national life
pray against the powers of evil, both spiritual and physical, that seek to disrupt and destroy, both in the church and the nation
pray that the church of Jesus Christ might stand united for God’s kingdom and ways as we navigate a season where even we as God’s people have been destabilized by tension
pray for revival in our nation; that God would lead people to a true understanding of the gravity of sin and evil, as well as the good news of the saving power of Jesus Christ
ultimately, pray that God’s kingdom would come and God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven
These additional resources on prayer may be helpful as you pray: